Seconds Away Page 8

They didn\'t like that. Neither did I.

’’And yet you were both here in Newark on Wednesday,’’ Dunleavy said. ’’Involved in that mess at the Plan B nightclub, is that correct?’’

’’It is.’’

’’Interesting. Have you met Rachel Caldwell\'s father?’’

That question threw me. ’’No.’’

’’How about her mother?’’

’’No.’’

’’Any family member?’’

’’No. Please. What\'s going on? Is Rachel okay?’’

’’Tell us about your phone conversation with Rachel Caldwell.’’

’’I already did.’’

’’From the beginning. Word for word.’’

’’I don\'t understand. Why do you need to know word for word?’’

’’Because,’’ Homicide Investigator Dunleavy said, ’’right after you finished talking to her, someone shot Rachel Caldwell in the head.’’

Chapter 7

I couldn\'t move.

The door to the interrogation room opened. A young officer leaned in and said, ’’Chief Taylor? Call for you.’’ With one last hard glare, Taylor left me alone with Dunleavy.

I swallowed. ’’Is Rachel . . . ?’’

For a moment she said nothing. Homicide. She said that she was from homicide. I took Latin. Homo meant ’’human being,’’ cidium, ’’to kill.’’ Murder.

I don\'t cry much. Almost never, in fact. My dad and Uncle Myron were the kind of guys who cry at sentimental TV commercials. Not me. I shut it down. But right then I could feel tears pushing their way into my eyes.

’’She\'s alive,’’ Dunleavy said.

I almost fainted from relief. I started to ask more, but Dunleavy put up her hand to stop me.

’’I\'m not at liberty to discuss her condition, Mickey. What I need you to do is to help me find the person who did this to her. Do you understand?’’

I did. So I told her everything I remembered about the phone conversation, brief as it was. I thought about the bad guys we had helped arrest. Hadn\'t Uncle Myron warned me? You don\'t just catch bad guys and move on. Actions had consequences.

Had someone taken revenge out on Rachel?

’’Tell me more about Rachel,’’ she said.

’’Like what?’’

’’Let\'s start with her social life. Is she popular?’’

’’Very.’’

’’What kids does she hang out with?’’

’’I don\'t really know. Like I said, I\'m new to the school.’’

Dunleavy glanced behind her at the door, as if she expected it might open. It didn\'t. Then she said, ’’How about Rachel\'s boyfriend, Troy Taylor? What\'s he like?’’

Even with all this danger and fear, I could still feel my cheeks redden at the name of the chief\'s son. Troy Taylor was a senior, captain of the basketball team, and he had made it his mission to make my life hell.

’’I don\'t think they go out anymore,’’ I said, trying hard not to grit my teeth.

’’No?’’

’’No.’’

’’You okay, Mickey?’’

My hands had tightened up into fists. ’’Fine.’’

Dunleavy tilted her head. ’’Are you her boyfriend now?’’

’’No.’’

’’Because you look a little jealous.’’

’’I\'m not,’’ I half snapped. ’’What does any of this have to do with what happened to Rachel?’’

’’I understand you assaulted Troy Taylor.’’

That surprised me. ’’I didn\'t assault him. It was self- defense.’’

’’I see. But there was an altercation?’’

’’Not really. Maybe a quick one ’’

’’And was this altercation over Rachel Caldwell?’’

’’No. He took my friend Ema\'s laptop and ’’

’’And you hit him.’’

’’No. That\'s not how it went.’’

’’I see,’’ she said in a way that suggested that she clearly didn\'t. ’’According to Chief Taylor, you\'ve had a number of run-ins with the law.’’

’’That\'s not true.’’

’’No?’’ She looked down at a slip of paper. ’’It says here you were arrested for trespassing ’’

’’And released,’’ I said. That had been at Bat Lady\'s house. ’’I was knocking on a door, that\'s all.’’

She kept reading. ’’You also operated a motor vehicle without a valid driver\'s license. You operated a motor vehicle while underage. Then there\'s breaking and entering, and using a fake ID to enter a drinking establishment and nightclub.’’

I decided to keep my mouth shut. I could explain it all, but she\'d never get it. Heck, I didn\'t even get it.

’’Do you have anything to say for yourself, Mickey?’’

’’Where\'s Rachel?’’

She shook her head. Once again the door behind her opened. Officer Ball came into the room, and so did my uncle Myron. Myron gave Dunleavy a quick glance and rushed toward me.

’’Are you okay?’’ Myron asked.

’’I\'m fine,’’ I said.

Uncle Myron straightened up and faced Dunleavy. Though he didn\'t really practice law Myron was an agent for athletes and entertainers he was officially an attorney. He cleared his throat and said, ’’What\'s going on here?’’

She smiled at him. ’’We\'re done here. Your nephew is free to go.’’

She started to rise.

’’Investigator Dunleavy?’’ I said.

She stopped.

’’Who was killed?’’

Her eyes narrowed. ’’How do you know ?’’

Now it was my turn to hold up the hand. ’’You said two people were shot. You also said you were a homicide detective. That means someone was killed, right?’’

’’Not always,’’ she said, but her voice was soft.

Myron stood next to me. We both just watched her.

I said, ’’But in this case?’’

She took her time, looking down, gathering her paper. But then she said, ’’The gunman also shot Rachel\'s mother. And, yes, she\'s dead.’’

Chapter 8

What do you do after getting news about a friend being shot and her mother being murdered?

In my case, you go to school.

Myron asked me a hundred questions, making sure I was fine, but in the end, what was I going to do take what my classmates call ’’a mental health day’’? I checked my phone and saw two texts from Ema. The first one had been sent early in the morning: I found something about your dad\'s paramedic that makes no sense.

Normally, I\'d be all over that, but about an hour later, Ema\'s next point was much more urgent: OMG! RUMOR THAT RACHEL WAS SHOT! WHERE ARE YOU?


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